Laura Collins-Hughes: March 2008 Archives
The Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction released its long list today, with a familiar name right at the top. Former NAJP fellow Anita Amirrezvani (1998) is in the running for her first novel, "The Blood of Flowers," set in 17th-century Iran. The long list includes writers eligible for the £30,000 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, the £10,000 Orange Broadband Award for New Writers, or both.
In Sunday's New York Times, the always fun to parse Corrections section has an editor's note that's arresting in its opacity, given the glaring conflict of interest it acknowledges, as well as the carelessness that seems to have led to the piece in question making its way into the Times' pages:
A question-and-answer interview on March 2 in Arts & Leisure with the director and a cast member of the Classic Stage Company's production of "The Seagull" was conducted by Rosemarie Tichler, a freelance writer who is on the board of directors of Classic Stage. She disclosed this fact in a note to the assigning editor, but it was overlooked in the editing process. Had The Times noticed her affiliation, it would have sought another interviewer for the article.
Her board membership, or possibly the note itself, was "overlooked"? "Had The Times noticed her affiliation"?
I'm not totally unsympathetic; we all know what it's like to be overwhelmed by the incessant deluge of e-mail and the demand that we be constantly in touch. But come on. Paying attention to all notes from anyone you're about to assign or publish is part of the editing process.
After all, you never know. They might say, "BTW, that story I pitched? Hope it's not a problem that I'm on the board of the theater!"
When it comes to the big journalism scandals -- plagiarism, fabrication, that sort of thing -- the arts desk tends to be left out of the action: unscathed, perhaps, but also sidelined, a mere spectator to the drama.
So it's ever so slightly startling to realize that many of the pieces purloined by Timothy Goeglein, who resigned Friday as an aide to President Bush after blogger Nancy Nall exposed his plagiarizing ways, are works of arts journalism.
Michiko Kakutani and James Sterngold in The New York Times, Tim Page and William Booth in The Washington Post, Eric Ormsby and Bruce Bennett in The New York Sun, Tracy Lee Simmons in the National Review, Roger Kimball in The Wall Street Journal -- the list goes on. All of them, and others, had their writing stolen by Goeglein, who submitted it under his own byline in "guest columns" for his hometown paper, the Fort Wayne, Ind., News-Sentinel.
The News-Sentinel said Saturday that "20 of 38 [of Goeglein's] columns published from 2000-08 have been found to have portions copied from other sources without attribution." But a quick compare-and-contrast of one such column with the original, a John Wayne centenary essay by Bruce Bennett in The New York Sun, shows that the "portion" lifted by the now disgraced White House aide could be, oh, just about the entire article -- augmented by some brief and appallingly cheesy passages that probably are Goeglein's own.